Turf toe is a sprain of the base of the big toe where the big toe meets the foot. It is usually a hyperextension sprain of the first joint of the toe. A sprain is stretching or tearing of the ligaments that support a toe. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other. The injury is called turf toe because it often occurs in football and soccer players when playing on artificial turf.
Turf Toe Swelling
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Turf toe occurs when the big toe is forced to extend beyond its normal range of motion. This can be caused by: Standing on the balls of your feet as another person falls onto you, causing your big toe to hyperextendStopping suddenly when running, causing your big toe to slide into the end of your shoe and bend up and backward as you go forward
Factors that increase your chances of getting turf toe include:
Sports such as:
FootballSoccerRugbyBasketballRunningGymnasticsDancingPoor coordinationIncreased ankle dorsiflexionWearing athletic shoes with flexible solesPlaying sports on artificial turf
Symptoms include: Pain and tenderness in the ball of the foot and the big toeSwelling and bruising of the ball of the foot and the big toeInability to bear weight on the ball of the injured footInability to push off on the big toeReduced range of motion in the big toe
You will be asked about your symptoms and how you injured your toe. An exam of your toe will be done to assess the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Your doctor may need images of your foot. This can be done with: X-rayMRI scan
The toe will need time to heal. Supportive care may include: Rest—Activities may need to be restricted at first. Normal activities will be reintroduced gradually as the injury heals. Ice—Ice therapy may help relieve swelling. Compression—Compression bandages can provide gentle pressure to help move fluids out of the area. Elevation—Keeping the affected area elevated can help fluids drain out or prevent fluids from building up. A metatarsal pad may be advised to cushion the area under the toe.Stiff-soled shoes or rigid orthotics may be advised to keep the toe from hyperextending.A walking boot or cast may be needed for more severe injuries.
Over-the-counter medication may be advised to reduce inflammation and pain.
Surgery is only needed to repair turf toe if: A small piece of bone has been broken off by the injury to the ligamentA ligament is torn completely
Often, turf toe cannot be prevented. However, to reduce your risk of getting turf toe, wear stiff-soled athletic shoes when playing sports.
Turf toe. Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.foothealthfacts.org/Content.aspx?id=1479. Accessed February 24, 2016.
Turf toe. Ortho Info—American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00645. Updated August 2012. Accessed February 24, 2016.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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